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IBCPC President Meri Gibson’s report to IDBF Council

Sarasota, July 2022

Report for 45th IDBF Council Meeting, 8th July 2022 on behalf of the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (IBCPC)

It gives me pleasure to present this report.

I must first acknowledge the passing of Jane Frost the Founding President of the IBCPC. Jane had played an enormous role in the development of breast cancer dragon boating globally. She had been diagnosed with a secondary some years ago but chose to live her life fully in the ensuing years.

As I sat and authored this report, I was looking back on what I said in my report to the IBCPC Congress meeting in 2018 and reflected on where we have come from since then.

At that time, I said:

“We have big plans for our future and with over 5500 members worldwide currently, coupled with the exponential growth we have seen in the last four years, there is the potential, with the as yet untapped territories, to double that figure in the next four years.

A big goal I know, but if you don’t dream big then where is the challenge.

As Mahatma Gandhi said:

Your beliefs become your thoughts.

Your thoughts become your words.

Your words become your actions.

Your actions become your habits.

Your habits become your values.

Your values become your destiny.

I am a great believer in these thought processes, and those of you who know me well, will tell you I am ever the optimist, so I am going straight from “belief to destiny,” and you all know that I will be looking for your help and support to achieve these goals.”

It is with immense pride that I report that we have achieved that doubling of numbers with over 10,000 members globally. We have taken the countries from 20 to 35 and still growing, the teams from 200 to about to touch 300. We see the potential for even more growth as evidenced by the rapid growth that we have seen.

We are so happy to finally be able to travel again undertaking outreach clinics since the last one in Israel in November 2019, which was just a month after we were all in Thailand in October 2019. To think that it is two years since we were all together and what a fantastic occasion that was. Who would have thought that would be the last time we would all be face to face?

Once again, I need to say how grateful we are to be in the Southern Hemisphere, but more importantly in New Zealand where we have been able to continue our paddling seasons unscathed by this virus.

Our two IBCPC mantras continue to be the cornerstone of our organisation:

First and foremost:

“Exercise is Medicine”


“Paddles Across the World”

This has been borne out with our most recent outreach to Trinidad and Tobago and to the Bahamas. Both were fantastic events. We always try to engage with the medical community in each location to garner their support for the survivors. The Bahamas saw us have 46 medical people in attendance at the presentation. This is unprecedented as we usually have only 5 or so attend. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable. We are super excited to be involved in the first dragon boat festival in the Bahamas in August 2022. Breast Cancer dragon boating despite the lockdowns in each country has continued to grow apace.

This year as part of the continued enactment of our 5-year Strategic Plan we continue to strengthen the various roles within the organisation. We have been working on the role of National Representatives.

National Representatives

The full description of a National Rep is on the website, but in essence.

This is a voluntary role with the IBCPC. The expectation is that it will be helpful for our member teams (and potential new teams) to have a local IBCPC presence to contact in relation to breast cancer survivor dragon boat paddling locally, nationally, and internationally.

We also see the National reps as a conduit to the IBCPC to stay informed of events and news about breast cancer dragon boat paddling in each country or region and conversely for teams to be kept up to date with the IBCPC and to receive news about dragon boat paddling worldwide.

A large part of the National Reps role is to Promote IBCPC membership for teams, especially new teams:

  • To help people with a diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer understand that they can still lead full and active lives despite physical limitations imposed by breast surgery.

  • To encourage people to “achieve their dream” of regaining an active, adventurous lifestyle.

  • To give a “face” to the breast cancer statistics by participating in regattas and other events and competitions as breast cancer survivors.

A full list of National and country reps is available on the website.

The Medical Advisory Panel (MAP) continues to review medical research to be able to update information as it comes to hand and to guide survivors to the best resources that we can.

We continue to support those paddlers who wish to move on to competitive paddling and it will be exciting to see how well those who have entered the CCWC 2022 perform at their best.

The registrations for the IBCPC Participatory festival 2023 have now closed, with a last-minute flurry of registrations. Even with the hesitancy of travel and uncertainty of where the virus will continue to take us, we are thrilled with the outcome of those who have registered.

We will start a series of workshops for those teams interested in placing a bid for the 2026 festival. These will be held on the 30/31st July 2022. We hope to be able to announce the next festival at the closing of the 2023 festival.

Thank you for reading this report. The growth and participation in breast cancer paddling has been phenomenal, we are always excited to see where this will take us.

Meri Gibson

President, IBCPC